The Razor’s Edge/Alfred Newman

October 10, 2006


The competition in 1946 for the best original score was fierce. Herrmann, Waxman, Friedhofer, Rozsa, and Sir William Walton were all up for the honors with Friedhofer winning with his “Best Years Of Our Lives” score. The famous song Mam’selle which went on to sell millions of copies, written by the director of the picture Goulding, as well as Newman’s wonderful score weren’t even nominated. The song winner in 46 was the Warren/Mercer “On The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” from “Harvey Girls”. In fact if you stop and think about it for a minute how many directors write songs! The Zanuck produced picture did garner 4 nominations and Anne “All About Eve” Baxter did win an Oscar for best supporting actress but that was pretty much it. Capra’s film “It’s A Wonderful Life”, a classic played at Christmas, won nothing. Olivier and his “Henry 5th” won nothing. 7 Oscars went to Wyler’s picture “The Best Years Of Our Lives” including director, picture, actor, supporting actor, original score, screenplay and editing. Yet for Zanuck and Fox turning the W. Somerset Maugham novel into a film was quite successful. People went to see the film and it made money. The original screenplay assignment was handed over to Maugham but was never used. Somerset did manage a fine Matise painting as payment for his services. Norman Rockwell did the poster artwork something he did for such films as “The Magnificent Ambersons”, “Song Of Bernadette”, and “Stagecoach”. And to top it off Oleg Cassini did the costuming! Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, and Clifton Webb also starred in the drama of yet another love triangle.

“Razor’s Edge” is the 10th score that Craig Spaulding has done for Screen Archives Entertainment of Alfred Newman soundtracks. These are primarily labors of love and are done for archiving material that in time could be lost forever as many scores are gone because the original tapes were just not preserved as they should have been. That is why it is important that material such as this be supported as much as possible. Off my soap box and onto the score itself. Since one of the purposes is to archive all of the material you are going to get a combination song/score CD. The main title is the Newman theme “The Pursuit of Knowledge”, the perfect theme to this yearning soap opera film. It is a buildup from a brass fanfare and strings to the anticipated theme played by the violins. For the party and nightclub scenes songs such as “April Showers”, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “The Missouri Waltz”, as well as some folk style french music with the accordian (well associated with a Paris cafe or a romantic interlude). Newman contributes a fox trot called “A Chicago Country Club Dance” which fits in very nicely with the other chosen source material. The Mam’selle theme is introduced in the cue “Rue De Lappe” sung in french as it is in the last demo track. The english words were not added until after the movie and recorded by a whose who of singers including Sinatra, Bennett, and Doris Day. The reason for exit music in this score is they originally intended to have an intermission break thus a very nice waltz was created for the occasion. The short “Finale”, “Isabel and Larry in Paris”, “Returned Engagement”, and “Last Night Together” also feature the main theme but in a far more tantalizing version. The concertmaster (#1 violin player who usually plays solos) always got a workout in Newman scores and in this case he doesn’t disappoint. “Oboesque”, which was eliminated from the final editing process, is actually a quite nice sonata for oboe. The scene was a middle eastern den of (you put in your own word) and it is quite atmospheric in nature.

When you begin to sit down and seriously listen to this score and you realize some of the many different scenes from Chicago to Paris to Middle East to India one can fully appreciate the greatness of Alfred Newman. Yes some of the song material you might find a bit corny but consider the time it was produced and written for. “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” was in style in 1946! And after a few spins if you just want to listen to the score material its easy enough to program your CD player to just the Newman cues. This is quite a diverse and most interesting score to listen to, enough so that watching the movie is on my list of things to do in the very near future.

The Rudy Behlmer film notes are Jon Burlingame music notes are outstanding. Ray Faiola does his usual magic in his Chelsea Rialto Studio giving us a special treat. While this is not quite up to the caliber of Wuthering Heights, Captain from Castile, and How the West Was Won, other scores from Alfred Newman, it is still very good and recommended.


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